Pichler, Johann and Wilhelm
PICHLER, JOHANN AND WILHELM
Brothers distinguished in the field of catechetics and pastoral theology.
Johann, pastoral theologian; b. Grosskrut, Austria, March 22, 1860; d. Vienna, Oct. 22, 1927. Ordained in 1882, he was pastor in Maissau until 1903. He then went to Vienna, where he began his lifelong career in catechetics. With his brother, Wilhelm, he was the cofounder of the Viennese catechetical method and played a leading role in the Vienna Catechetical Union. At variance with the intellectualist catechetical method of the 19th century, he worked as a pioneer for the transformation of catechetical instruction of his day. His writings include Kath. Volksschul-Katechesen (Vienna 1905–07); Katechesen für die Oberstufe … sowie für die Christenlehre (Vienna 1911–14); with Wilhelm, Lehrplan für den kath. Religionsunterricht an den Volksu. Bürgerschulen Östr.s (Vienna 1904).
Wilhelm, outstanding contributor to the field of catechetics; b. Grosskrut, May 11, 1862; d. Vienna, March 3, 1938. Ordained in 1887, he entered the field of catechetics in Vienna in 1903. There he quickly recognized the fruitlessness and formalism of the religious instruction of his time. He therefore exposed the deficiencies inherent in the current catechetical method and attempted to bring about a transformation in its form and methodology. He began by developing an entirely new curriculum in which Scripture, doctrine, and liturgy were united. In order to free catechetics from the methodological conflicts of his time, he called attention to its need of a strong Biblical foundation. In this he adhered closely to the thinking of Otto Wilmann, Augustin Gruber, and Johann Gustave Mey, contemporary workers in catechetical instruction and method. Pichler was strongly pastoral in his approach and saw pastoral concerns as basic to catechetics. His catechisms made him a pioneer for all Biblically grounded books of catechetical instruction. His writings include Unser RU Seine Mängel u. deren Ursachen (Vienna 1907); Das Kath. Religionsbüchlein (Vienna 1913); Katechesen für die Unterstufe der Volksschule (Vienna 1918–22); Zur Methode des RU (Vienna 1935); and Hauptfragen des RU (Vienna 1937).
On the practical level, he went far beyond the catechetical demands of his time, but failed to win complete understanding and sympathy for his work. Personal modesty and a shyness about making public his ideas were an obstacle to his success, and his co-workers remained few. Nevertheless, he had a marked influence on the application of religious instruction, especially to the lower grades. He also developed an interest in missionary catechetics and devoted the last years of his life to this area.
Bibliography: f. jachym, "Wilhelm Pichler: Sein Leben und Werk" in Katechetische Besinnung (Vienna 1951) 9–22. h. kreutzwald, Zur Geschichte des biblischen Unterrichts (Freiburg 1957). l. lenter, Katechetisches Wörterbuch (Freiburg 1961) 623–624. a. heuser, in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 8:493.